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QIMR receives record $27.5 million gift

The Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) has received its largest-ever philanthropic gift, AUD$27.5 million from The Atlantic Philanthropies for its $179 million, new state-of-the-art 15 floor research facility at the QIMR site at Herston, Brisbane.

“We are grateful and delighted with the continued support of The Atlantic Philanthropies, but the size of this support is almost overwhelming. The funding will put us at 100% of our capital budget for our new building and we can begin construction right away. This is great news for QIMR and great news for Brisbane. The new building will enable us to increase our capacity to perform world-class medical research aimed at improving the health of all people,” explained QIMR Director Professor Michael Good.

The donation of AUD$27.5 million was triggered by Federal Government Education Infrastructure funding of $55 million announced in the recent Federal Budget. Together with $55 million previously received from the federal government in 2007 and $35 million promised by the Queensland State Government, this funding will allow construction of the new building to begin in October 2009.

Upon completion in early 2012, the facility will accommodate 20 new research laboratories and attract an additional 400 scientists and students, increasing QIMR’s staff capacity by more than 60% to around 1,200.

The project also will benefit Brisbane’s local economy by generating more than 360 local construction jobs.

This brings to AU$57million The Atlantic Philanthropies’ total commitment to QIMR over the last 10 years. Previous support led to the construction of QIMR’s Clive Berghofer Cancer Research Centre which was opened in 2001. The Atlantic Philanthropies has also been a strong supporter of several pioneering medical research projects including the grant for cellular therapies to treat cancer.

Mr Chuck Feeney, founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies, has been involved in the conceptualisation and planning of the new building for some time. He also played an active role in encouraging financial support from both the Federal and State governments.

The new building is to be constructed on the site of the old Queensland Radium Institute scheduled for demolition July 2009. It will serve as the integrating hub for the two research facilities already on the Herston site and provide an inviting street profile and focal point for QIMR. The united three-tower research facility will be located adjacent to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research, another Atlantic-supported research institute.

QIMR’s major areas of research activity are infectious diseases, cancer and cell biology, human genetics and population studies, therapeutic development, clinical research and immunology.

“The capital expansion will increase our current research capacity in areas such as tropical diseases, vaccine development, cancer and genetics. It will also result in the introduction of a Mental Health Research Division and provide for the introduction of brain neuro-imaging facilities. This is a new direction for QIMR and is aimed at improving our understanding of serious mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, mood disorders and neurodegenerative diseases,” explained Professor Good.

“The new building will also enable significant expansion for QIMR in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health with room for an additional 20 scientists researching cancer, asthma, rheumatic heart disease, dementia, maternal and child health. We will also be expanding QIMR’s successful ‘Spotlight’ program which brings Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to QIMR for week long science placements and workshops.”

“Another exciting feature of the new building will be a new High School Research Laboratory which will build on QIMR’s successful education program. The lab will be used to conduct student and teacher workshops in order to increase science literacy and inspire the scientists of tomorrow. The new building will also feature a 120 seat auditorium which will allow the extension of our current public lecture program,” said Professor Good.